So, What Are You Doing TONIGHT?

‘Know what’s important? It’s important not-to-forget: remember what’s important. Beverly and I have heard lots of good preaching while away. One speaker spoke of a couple getting on in years. Memories drifting. (None of us would know about that.) They decide to write things down. Over TV one night, Herbert heads for the kitchen for a glass of soda. He asks Marge, “Can I get you anything?” “Ice cream. Write it down.” He protests. “No need.” “Write it down,” she says. “Besides, I want strawberries. Write it down.” “No need.” “I want some whipped cream too. “OK.” “Write it down.” “No need.” Much noise & a ½ hour later… here comes Herbert. No soda & 2 heaping plates of ham and eggs! Marge is exasperated. “I told you to write it down; I just knew you’d forget the toast!” Herb & Marge forgot-to-remember. It’s worse to forget what’s really important! For just this reason, the evangelists write their Gospels: so we won’t forget-to-remember about Jesus, the Kingdom, the King. For this reason, Luke writes of Jesus with the multitudes, one particular soul, and the twelve. His focus is on priorities. So’s this message. Jesus’ priorities. Ours.

Let’s take a little walk with Jesus today… and remember what’s important. Jesus says, “Beware what you hold near your heart!” Beware what you hold near your heart! It’s personal, spiritual … What do you hold nearest your heart? … Luke says Jesus has been teaching large crowds with some of his greatest words and wonders. Casting out demons. Healing. The Lord’s Prayer! Ourselves as light for the world & not-to-be-hid. ….But there’s this guy here. He can’t keep his mind on the healing. Or the sermon. (Whew, it happened when Jesus preached, too.) Imagine: he’s been watching the Dow’s wild ride and calculating his retirement. Or he’s just come from the reading of Uncle Fred’s will. And he’s “ticked.” Luke says folks are “stepping all over each other” to hear Jesus. This fella’s hem’s torn, robe’s soiled. He cries out to Jesus. “Rabbi, order my brother to give me my fair share of the family inheritance!” First, Jesus helps this soul to get his priorities right. Jesus tells this particular soul specifically what he needs to hear. “Brother, beware what you hold near your heart! I’ve been showin’ and tellin’ the very Kingdom of God. And here you are fawnin’ over coin from your kin! Get your act together!” NRSV quotes, “Beware of all covetousness; for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Now to covet, Biblically, is to hold near to our hearts. It’s the stuff we clutch in the clenches of everyday life. It’s what we cling to as our own, even if we only wish it were. To covet is to set our caps for something our heart’s set on. At this moment, Jesus isn’t concerned with the crowd. Just this guy! Christ offers this 1 soul his full attention, his whole heart. Christ knows how devastating to the soul is stuff, stuff we touch, wear, own; stuff we feel, desire, fear…that keeps-our-heads-and-hearts-from-heaven. This is urgent to Jesus! So he speaks personally, urgently!… Is there a word about priorities Jesus needs to speak to you?… We’ll wait. (Pause.)

Take a little walk with Jesus. Jesus turns from this individual to the crowd. He always does. Lean a little forward now. This word’s for us. Christ tells a story with a question at the end! (Rabbis often do.) It applies to us. It’s the title of this message, the heart of Jesus’ teaching on a day Luke wants us to remember. Here’s the question. So, What Are You Doing TONIGHT? Here’s why he asks. Jesus knows this farmer. But I imagine it could’ve been a program analyst. A teacher with pension report in hand. A couple lookin’ at college costs ahead. A determined youth… convinced you really can map-out-your-life and expect your life to follow-the-map! Now, Jesus’ friend has done well. Crops in! New barns needed. It was like us runnin’ outta closet space. Imagine: mortgage & IRA’s paid up, 401K diversified. FAFSA finished, College Aid package in hand. Health insurance good to go. “I can breathe a little easy now.” Then, along comes Jesus askin’, So, What Are You Doing TONIGHT? ‘See, in Jesus’ story he says, “God’s plannin’ to show up at your house tonight. And once God comes into your life (sometimes sayin’ it’s your last night ever), you got no more stuff-needs. Only Saving-Needs. And stuff never, ever, saves you!” Only Jesus. Only Jesus. Remember. Priorities!

Something rings startlingly true here. Jesus’ farmer (our whoever) never glimpses giving as a glory for living. It’s a spirit thing. Christ knows it. Luke, too. So he remembers to share what Jesus shares. “He who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Jesus talks to the crowds about someone preoccupied with stuff. In just 3 verses, I, me and my appear 12 times! Our Lord encourages us to pull the plug on preoccupation with stuff. He also offers the glory of giving as an antidote for anxiety. This is vital spiritual subject matter. In testimony to Jesus, the New Testament devotes 500 verses to faith, 500 to prayer, 2000 to our resources and possessions! 16 of Jesus 38 parables are on this subject. What Jesus is saying here is radical. It contradicts almost every message our culture trumpets. (Maybe, “You gotta play to win,” should have been, “You gotta pray to win.”) Consider: every 20 minutes our kids watch TV carry 10 more telling them, “Buy!” It’s the 1st word in a brand new Trinity we’re encouraged to worship! Girls/ teens/women are told the second word is BEAUTIFY. (Wanna please a woman best in our culture? Just offer her those three sacred little words, “You’ve lost weight!”) Boys/youth/men share the third word of our Trinity, “Win.” Get ahead. Pass that car beside you. Pick up the pace. No wonder we’re exhausted, anxious and self-absorbed. Remember…Jesus says, “Whoever lays up treasure for him/herself, is not rich toward God.”

Come take a little walk with Jesus. He has a special word to teach his Disciples, those who don’t just hear, but follow him. That’s you and I, I pray! As we might say it, here’s where Jesus gives specific spiritual advice for us to follow. Here are the take home lessons! 1.) “Don’t be uptight about your eats, or 2) your feets (all those shoes), or 3) your clothes, or 4) your nose (with or with out powder)… i.e., your looks. It’s hard to imagine a more liberating, saving word! As Jesus himself puts it, “Life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Ravens [the birds, not the ballplayers] don’t plant or harvest. God feeds them. [It’s not their own doing!] Consider the lilies… knockouts [neither] Solomon nor [Nordstroms-of-Annapolis] can match. How much more will God feed and clothe you!” Let’s not miss this. Luke’s reporting lesson #5, Jesus is saying, “Don’t forget. Remember that your life is about what God is giving, not what you, by your efforts or wiles, are getting!” And with God’s giving, enough will always be enough! Live like it!

God’s enough… always enough. For Jesus’ sake, remember that, the next time you feel the urge for more! It’s a hard lesson for our times and souls. While away, I read with interest that no matter our income, most of our folks feel like they need about 20% more. Enough’s not enough. Make $10,000, you pine for 12… 2 K more. Make 50,000, you’d be comfortable if you just had 10,000 more. Make 100K, you’re anxious for 20K more. Make 500,000 and it feels like your 100,000 in the hole! It was a revelation to me! As a pastor, I can’t wait to identify a soul making 500,000 dollars a year. I wanna tell him or her they can relieve 98,000 dollars of their distress by donating 490,000-a-year to the saving work of Christ and his Kingdom. With $10,000 income they can reduce their “worry and need” to just $2,000! Is that cool or what!

But better still, best of all, we Disciples are forever out-of-debt, worry free, according to Christ. All we need to do is open our hearts toward him… see his outstretched arms toward us! Christ cancels our every debt to sin and sorrow. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” Christ introduces and delivers us to the Giver of Every Good and Perfect Gift… Giver of absolutely all we need, body or soul! We are that precious to our God!

So,

‘Ever feel alone in the crowd? ‘Like one lost soul in a multitude of mixed up priorities? Jesus will take the time to speak to you. He’ll caution you in what you covet. He’ll say, “Don’t forget. Remember, beware what you hold near your heart.” He’ll answer back when the crowd/world wants you to waste your days and misunderstand your nights. “What are you doing TONIGHT,” should you not have done-through-the-day whatever you can to become rich toward God? Says Jesus to his Disciples (us), “The peace I give you, only I can give. And I tell you, it’s out of this world!” With the gifts of God in Jesus Christ, remember: Enough is always enough.

We are free to live, free to give, here to share,

fitted for life beyond the air.

Today, tomorrow, this week, remember in the day,

and you shall have no need to fear or doubt the night!

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